First group of rural broadband points connected

Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys and Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan have announced that the first group of Broadband Connection Points (BCP) have been connected.

BCPs are among the first premises to be connected under the National Broadband Plan and are located in some of the most isolated and rural communities in the country, including islands off the coast of Donegal, Kerry, Mayo, Galway and Cork.

They will provide communities with free high-speed internet access at publicly-accessible sites under the government’s new Connected Communities initiative.

The first 50 BCPs are now connected as part of the wider BCP rollout which will see more than 200 public access points connected before the end of 2020 in addition to 75 school BCPs.

Further installations are planned for next year, to bring the total number of connected public access points to 300 in 2021.

Minister Humphreys said: “The launch of the first of the Broadband Connection Points under the Connected Communities initiative represents an investment in rural futures and recognises the contribution that rural Ireland makes to the culture, innovation and economy of our country.

More than 50 locations have already been connected by Vodafone Ireland and NBI [National Broadband Ireland], with more sites to be installed each week from now until the end of the year and beyond.

“The Covid-19 crisis has shown the value of digital technology in enabling workers, businesses and families to stay connected and in touch with each other.

“When people can work from their own communities, they can maintain the close connections that matter most: family; friends; community; and their homes. More than that, they can support local businesses, sports and community groups, all of which contributes to sustainable communities,” Minister Humphreys said.

Welcoming the launch of the initiative, executive chairman of NBI David McCourt said: “Broadband Connection Points offer rural communities essential access to free high-speed internet access and they pave the way for the wider rollout of the NBP, which is a project of tremendous size and scale.

It will deliver world-leading Fibre-to-the-Home broadband directly to almost 540,000 homes, farms and businesses.

“Since being awarded the contract to deliver the NBP and work commencing in January, our team has mobilised quickly to make excellent progress in our rollout schedule.

“Today, our teams are working across 23 counties and we’ve surveyed over 98,000 premises, which involves physically walking the routes where fibre will be laid.

“The first homes will be connectable to a high-speed broadband service by the year-end, and we’re proud to play our role in making sure every person in Ireland has equal access to high-speed broadband and the opportunities that come with that,” McCourt concluded.

BCPs will be provided with a temporary wireless high-speed broadband connection of up to 150mbps which they will keep for three years, or until they are provided with a permanent high-speed broadband connection under the NBP.

NBI will act as the Wholesale Service Provider (WSP), while Vodafone Ireland will act as the Retail Service Provider (RSP).